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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It's All in How You Phrase It, Isn't It?

Discussing the idea that it might be OK to tax people to save the earth from an asteroid, B-Murph writes:

"On the other hand, taking money from millions of people with the ultimate sanction of putting them in cages if they refuse–by hypothesis, these people don’t want to hand the money over voluntarily–in order to destroy an asteroid is so obviously a fine thing to do."

Hmm, let's play Marxist for a minute, and see if make our view look like Bob does his:

"On the other hand, taking money from millions of people with the ultimate sanction of putting them in cages if they refuse---by hypothesis, these people don't want to hand the money over voluntarily--in order so that they can eat and live, all because a capitalist property structure, that they certainly never agreed to, controls all of the farm land, food distribution, and grocery stores, is so obviously a fine thing to do."

Sputtering libertarian: "But... but... but... grocery store transactions are PURELY voluntary!"

Oh yeah? Check out what happens when the police aren't around threatening to put people in cages if they don't pay for the stuff in stores. It turns out that a lot of them didn't want to hand over their money voluntarily! They were handing it over only because their were lots of men with guns who were forcing them to do so.

Ancaps are just as willing to use coercion as anyone else who recommends any sort of political order. (B-Murph is not an ancap, of course, but a pacifist, and as such recommends "Everyone be nice" in place of political order.) The difference is that ancaps are only willing to endorse coercion to protect private property rights, while the rest of us think certain items of public property, such as our planet, might be worth protecting as well.

UPDATE: Oh boy. Some people read "check out what happens when" as "check out what ALWAYS happens when." That is NOT the common meaning of that expression. That is a strained meaning you are forcing on it in an attempt to make a view to which you object look stupid. Of course not every person at every time loots shops as soon as there are no cops present!

18 comments:

  1. So... libertarians exaggerate when they say taxes are extracted at gunpoint, but people only pay for their groceries because men with guns force them to.

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    1. No, Manuel, is your reading comprehension off today? I said "Let's PLAY Marxist," and we'll see that a Marxist can do the same thing Bob did.

      Some people pay their taxes voluntarily, some only because threatened.

      Some people pay for their groceries voluntarily, some only because threatened.

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  2. Oh, right, I remember the blackout of 2003, I totally predicted all the looting that would happen in NYC back then, and I was totally right about that.

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    1. Extra dosage of jerk pills today, Silas?

      You know what: in 2003, the blackout hit at 3:30 pm, instead of 9:30 pm. The police and shop owners had 4 hours to prepare before darkness hit, instead of the city being immediately plunged into a full blackout. Plus, the police had the experience of 1977 to help them get ready.

      So this is a very good illustration of my point, thank you.

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    2. Furthermore, Silas, your example might have a teeny bit of relevancy if what I had said was "Every single person at all times and all places only pays for groceries because of men with guns."

      But all I claimed was that there are *some* people who only pay for their groceries because of men with guns. And a counter-example showing "Some X aren't Y!" has exactly zero-force against a claim that "Some X are Y."

      I think your designers ought to check your logic processing unit, Silas.

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  3. We've had this argument before. You are right that ultimately an-capistan is typically viewed as relying on violent enforcement of property rights. Since I'm a pacifist, I object to that.

    However, I think you are wrong in suggesting that, from the POV of the average American, paying your taxes is the same thing as paying for a TV. There is a definite sense most Americans (I claim) have that it really is *their* money, and they are being forced to give it to the government. They may agree this is a necessary state of affairs, but they don't view the government as taking "its" rightful money from you.

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    1. The case for libertarianism now depends on poll numbers?

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. And, to the extent that 10% might answer "yes," that is due to the bad influence of libertarianism on the populace. If you wonder why I keep "picking on" libertarians, think about this: instead of telling people "render unto Caesar" they are telling them, "Caesar is stealing from you!"

      That is actively spreading evil ideas.

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    4. And anyway, Bob, this is the wrong poll question. The right one: "When the government taxes you, is it stealing from you?"

      You'd get 90% or more "no." That's why people say someone "cheated" on their taxes. In fact, Clint Eastwood summed it up pretty well in Gran Torino (from memory)" "I cheated on my taxes. And that's the same thing as stealing."

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  4. "the rest of us think certain items of public property, such as our planet, might be worth protecting as well."

    If you really think that, then why aren't you willing to pay the costs yourselves instead of insisting that those who don't agree go in halvesies with you?

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    1. Gee Tom, if you really think private property is OK, why are you just not taking it yourself, instead of insisting that others who think it is immoral not take it as well?

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    2. "Gee Tom, if you really think private property is OK, why are you just not taking it yourself, instead of insisting that others who think it is immoral not take it as well?"

      Non sequiter. "Not taking" is exactly what he is supporting. Your supposed conflict does not exist.

      Believing in something and taking other people's money to pay for it is not equal to believing in something and _not_ taking people's money to pay for it.

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    3. The Marxist does not believe that the factory actually belongs to the capitalist: the capitalist, he says, has stolen it from the workers. Who is Tom to use force to prevent these workers from taking over the factory that they believe is rightly theirs? From their point of view, he is helping the capitalist to steal it.

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    4. Also, Curt, I think you should look up "non sequitur." Not only are you spelling it wrongly, you also appear to be using it wrongly.

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    5. "Who is Tom to use force to prevent these workers from taking over the factory that they believe is rightly theirs?"

      What makes you think I would do, or advocate, any such thing?

      You appear to have mistaken me for an anarcho-capitalist [sic].

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  5. Gene, if I am penetrating your prose correctly, you're objecting to voluntary cooperation and private property because there are people who will take that property involuntarily if they have the power to do so.

    Yet taxation is nothing more than someone taking property involuntarily because they have the power to do so.

    The an-cap is objecting to being robbed, be it by a thief in the night or an official with a badge.

    So in all seriousness, I'm not seeing how your essay above is any objection at all. You seem to believe that the looters were acting "wrongly", yet you support taxation. Isn't it you who is making the non-sequiter?

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    1. "you're objecting to voluntary cooperation and private property..."

      No, Curt, I am not "objecting" to anything. I am demonstrating that ancaps are willing to use force to compel others to accept their preferred social system, just like "statists."

      "because there are people who will take that property involuntarily if they have the power to do so."

      Those people are taking that property voluntarily! Ancaps protest that they didn't agree to the government that demands taxes from them. But Marxists make the same objection to private property: *they* never agreed that land X is yours, so who are you to keep them off of it?

      "The an-cap is objecting to being robbed, be it by a thief in the night or an official with a badge."

      The Marxist is objecting to being robbed, be it by a capitalist who claims to own the means of production, or an official with a badge.

      "yet you support taxation"

      This blog post is not "supporting" anything. It is showing the equivalence of the ancap objection to the state and the Marxist objection to private property.

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